The Secret Service admitted on Monday there was a third crasher at the Nov. 24 state dinner that President Obama and First Lady Michelle hosted for the Prime Minister of India. The agency issued a statement, Politics Daily has learned, because Newsmax.com posted a story on the Secret Service internal investigation that led to the discovery of another intruder at the party.
Reality television show aspirants Tareq and Michaele Salahi were unmasked by a Washington Post reporter who recognized the Virginia couple when they sailed past banks of cameras at the White House. The Secret Service took the blame for letting the Salahi's in even though they were not on the guest list. The agents on duty--three were suspended because of the incident--did not follow orders to check with their superiors and the White House social office if people showed up who were not on the list.
White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers was criticized for not posting staffers at the entrance to the East Wing to work with the Secret Service to keep crashers out.
The third interloper kept a lower profile than the Salahis--who met and were photographed with President Obama as they made their way down the receiving line at the pre-dinner reception. They also posted pictures of themselves at the dinner--with Vice President Biden and other notables--on their Facebook page.
Here's what happened, according to the Secret Service statement and Politics Daily interviews with officials familiar with the investigation:
The night of the dinner, the State Department assembled a group of Indian CEO's at the Willard Hotel, a few blocks from the White House. The State Department was responsible for the group. The interloper--who Politics Daily was told is believed to be an American--hooked up with the Indian delegation at the hotel.
"This individual went through all required security measures along with the rest of the official delegation at the hotel, and boarded a bus/van with the delegation guests en route to the White House," the Secret Service said in the statement. While the others in the delegation were on the White House "WAVES" system--meaning their names were cleared and they were on a computer database--this individual was not.
"At present, there is nothing to indicate that this individual went through the receiving line or had contact with the President or First Lady," the Secret Service statement said.
The State Department is taking responsibility for not realizing the interloper joined the delegation. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said at Monday's briefing, "We've already instituted some procedural changes for any kind of foreign delegation that may be under our responsibility, these delegations who are slated to go to the White House."
There is an ongoing criminal investigation of the Salahis; the third crasher is also subject to a criminal probe. The Secret Service statement came out after Ronald Kessler reported on the third intruder at Newsmax.com. Kessler said the Secret Service realized there was another crasher after viewing video of arriving guests and matching them up with the guest list.
The Salahi incident is being investigated by the House Homeland Security Committee; the panel held a hearing on the security breach on Dec. 3. The Salahis have been subpoenaed to appear at the Jan. 20 committee hearing on White House security. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) did not succeed in his attempt to subpoena Rogers. The White House blocked her from testifying at the December hearing.
The White House beefed up its security after the Salahi incident, facing a heavy season of holiday entertaining at the White House. Staffers were on hand to help agents check off arriving guests. I was told by a law enforcement official that the Salahis did not inspire any copycats: no one tried to crash the string of Obama holiday parties.
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